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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


09/11/2019 - Icy Cold Autumn Sessions

My only fish a chub of 4 lb 2 ounces

It was around 1500 hrs when Dave Hurst and myself arrived on the banks of the River Ribble, thankfully the water had dropped about two feet from the previous day, I got a water temperature reading of 44 degrees F, down 4 degrees F from the previous day, I reckon the drop in the water temperature was caused by the north easterly wind and clear overnight sky, my baits were luncheon meat, bread and some two year old well matured cheese paste, I chose a soft Avon action rod with a small fixed spool with 10 lb bs braid to which I tied a size 6 barbless hook with a Palomar knot. As we don’t get the chance to fish with each other very often we decided to sit and fish the same swim.

Chub First Bite

As we settled in our chosen swim a wren close by gave us a scolding, sadly we couldn’t leave any food for this delightful bird, across the river David heard a tree creeper, he really does know his bird calls, having been a bird watcher all his life through his Dads teaching in the early days. He chose to fish with luncheon meat, while I started off with crust, both of us used one shot on the line with plasticine moulded around the shot, often if you get hooked up in the numerous rocks, you can pull the tackle free with just the loss of some plasticine. After casting out I sat with the line over my forefinger, after a few minutes, I set the rod in the rest while I catapulted some free offerings of bread well upstream, as I was doing so the rod was wrenched around savagely then started to move towards the river, I just managed to grab the end of rod butt. Finding myself hooked up to an angry fish, as line was pulled from the reel. After a good give and take struggle I had the fish within range of the net, soon it was mine lifting the net I thought that’s a 4lb fish, on the scales I got a reading of 4 lb 2 ounces. After David had taken a picture for me, I went well upstream before releasing the fish. Back in the swim I rebaited with another chunk of crust, five minutes later have seen a slight movement on the rod tip I checked to see if the bait was still on, it wasn’t, after several casts with bread and finding it gone after a few minutes, I changed to luncheon meat. As dusk was falling we retrieved our hooks from the water, then went back to the cabin. On with the kettle, while I waited for it to boil, I made a bacon and onion toasty for David, a cheese and pickle toasty for myself along with two mugs of tea.

The Second Half

It was dark as we walked across the meadow to the river then downstream to our swim, the easterly wind had increased, soon a nearly full moon appeared, David fished meat I chose crust, as before our tea break the minnows were soon on the bread, after about half an hour, I switched to meat, two hours later I switched back to bread, David to lobworms, apart from David having three bites on lobs all missed I didn’t have any action, by now everything was covered in frost, I checked the water temperature getting a reading of 39/40 degrees F. Around 2100 hrs we talked about the prospects, both agreeing nothing was likely to improve. Not only did we have a very low water temperature, but we also had to contend with literally thousand of leave both floating and midwater, not forgetting those rotting on the bottom or slowly moving along, I have always felt masses of leaves rotting on the bottom, puts the fish off feeding through the acidity caused by the leaves. I again checked to see if the bait had been taken by the minnows, it had. Rebaiting I cast again within a few minutes the bait had gone. We then decided to pack up and go off home arriving sometime before 2200 hrs

Day Two Session

Being a glutton for punishment I was back on the river today around 0930 hrs the weather was a horrid icy cold easterly wind blowing down river which was in my face, there was no shelter I could seek, I just had to put up with it, over head the sky was leaden grey, it didn’t look good. But as I always say “If you don’t have a bait, lure or fly in the water you can’t catch”. My tackle and baits were as I used the previous day, I got a water temperature reading of 38/39 degrees F, still the leaves continued to fall from the trees then either sink or float down the river often in small rafts. The wren was back flitting to and fro in the reeds no doubt looking for spiders. Having settled in my swim I baited with a small cube of cheese flavoured crust on a three inch link, then dropped the baited hook into slack under a willow tree some ten feet upstream, soon I had a slight movement on the rod tip which didn’t register on my forefinger, “Minnow no doubt” I said to myself, rebaiting I cast to the same area, another slight movement on the rod tip, checking the hook I could see the crust had gone, but I did have a foul hooked minnow. I then switched to meat, followed by cheese paste, but this was soon whittled down, eventually I changed to a lobworm, still no sign of action for about half an hour, then the rod tip wrenched round, it was a trout about two pounds so it didn’t count. I fished on until around 1330 hrs then headed off home frozen but happy that I had made the effort. I will be back tomorrow afternoon after I have attended the Remembrance day parade.


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Martin James Fishing
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